IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2020 Sep 21;PP. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2020.3025517. Online ahead of print.
Accurate segmentation of the prostate and organs at risk (OARs, e.g., bladder and rectum) in male pelvic CT images is a critical step for prostate cancer radiotherapy. Unfortunately, the unclear organ boundary and large shape variation make the segmentation task very challenging. Previous studies usually used representations defined directly on unclear boundaries as context information to guide segmentation. Those boundary representations may not be so discriminative, resulting in limited
performance improvement. To this end, we propose a novel boundary coding network (BCnet) to learn a discriminative representation for organ boundary and use it as the context information to guide the segmentation. Specifically, we design a two-stage learning strategy in the proposed BCnet: 1) Boundary coding representation learning. Two sub-networks under the supervision of the dilation and erosion masks transformed from the manually delineated organ mask are first separately trained to learn the spatial-semantic context near the organ boundary. Then we encode the organ boundary based on the predictions of these two sub-networks and design a multi-atlas based refinement strategy by transferring the knowledge from training data to inference. 2) Organ segmentation. The boundary coding representation as context information, in addition to the image patches, are used to train the final segmentation network. Experimental results on a large and diverse male pelvic CT dataset show that our method achieves superior performance compared with several state-of-the-art methods.